WELCOME TO ALL! It is time for our open discussion to begin. I will post assignments for reading, and in this case, watching the first ten minutes of ON THE DOORSTEP OF THE CASTLE. You may jump in any time with comments, questions, observations. I will check the postings regularly, give new assignments, and comment on existing posts.

If it is after Oct 1 and you would like to join us, jump in! This is meant to be an open dialog and anyone can easily "catch up" and participate as they choose.

To get started:

1. View the opening sequence, which I have attempted to add here. It is in the video library of the Depth Psychology Alliance. If my technology fails, I will post it again.

   As you watch the video, imagine what it would be like to be in the body of Alma de Leon, the woman who enters with the music in the beginning. What states of mind, emotion, or circumstance do her movements portray. Have you ever felt "at war with yourself", or felt the tension of opposing forces in your body.

2. In Alma's first speech, she refers to her "aridity of soul". What does this mean to you? The setting of 16th century Spain is later described as "our wild, arid country". How do you imagine place impacts inner life?

3. Teresa's rapture in the second scene, and Alma's description of seeing Teresa "float off the ground" when in a trance of communication with God. What does this mean to you? Have you ever felt in contact with the divine?

These are some ideas to think about. Please watch the video and read to the top of page 18, ending with "and you will teach me what it is, to love the poor" You might also benefit from reading pages 63 through 69, two essays by myself and Lindsey Rosen that give some background on the conception of the play.

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  • I read the book first before our assignment.  While reading the beginning page about letters  an image of prayer flags appeared. The video confirmed the image of the letters as a string of prayer flags.  As I reread the section again I see your poetic description of the letters, “like flags on a clothesline.”

    Q1. word/ phrases that come to mind when watching Alma’s movements on video:

    being stretched,  being stretched in all directions, catching/receiving something causing increased anxiety/tension, back and forth movement, unknowing, the unknown, tension of opposites, flattened, not just on knees but flat on back on ground, as low as can be, lowly, circling inward, circling outward, pulling in, grasping, reaching for letter, for prayer flag.

    Q2. “aridity of soul” -To me this is about the lack of healing waters. Arid means, “little or no rain, too dry or barren to support vegetation.” I am reminded here that in Sufism, rain is a sign of rahma or rahmat, which are variances of the same word meaning “divine mercy.”  Rahma is derived from the same root as rahim, meaning “mother’s womb.”  Rain can be a blessing, but torrents of rain mean something different.

    “attempt to pray but who for? who is listening?,“  “she will toss my letter out the window, crying, who is this godless child”  - to me this says she will judge me, she will not hear my letter, she will not answer my prayer request

    “I find myself entering the twentieth year with great hunger for something I can believe in whole-heartedly,” “Searching for something to feed longing in soul,“ a flower reaching to sky, hunger for own rapture – to me she is searching/praying  for divine mercy

    Q3. With the question about Teresa’s rapture, I became more curious about the meaning and word origin of “rapture:” definition - an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion, a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion , a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things. Latin and Greek origins for “rapture” include: seizure, kidnapping, a carrying off, caught up, taken away. Rapture = bliss= complete happiness.









  • Education Institution

    Sorry I overlooked the "Levitation" part earlier.... opppssssss.

    I have never personally witnessed or experienced such a spectacle.  I've seen people collapse after being "slain in the Spirit" but that's about a close as I've seen any such incredulous thing as this.  Also, the Stigmata is another mystical occurrence I'm familiar with.

    I'm also aware that numerous incidents of levitation have been recorded in Christianity, and Islam.  Among the first these were incidents reported among the Roman Catholic saints, including the incident of Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663), the most famous, who is said to have often levitated through the air. It is reported he often gave a little shriek just before levitating, and on one occasion levitated for as long as two hours.

    Saint Teresa of Avila has the privilege of being a well known saint who reported levitating. She told of experiencing it during states of rapture. One eyewitness, Sister Anne of the Incarnation, said Saint Teresa levitated a foot and a half off the ground for about a half hour.

    Saint Teresa wrote of one of her experiences: "It seemed to me, when I tried to make some resistance, as if a great force beneath my feet lifted me up. I know of nothing with which to compare it; but it was much more violent than other spiritual visitations, and I was therefore as one ground to pieces." (Evelyn Underhill "Mysticism," 1955)

    Also Saint Teresa observed these levitations frightened her but there was nothing she could do to control them. She did not become unconscious, but saw herself being lifted up.

    And, at the beginning of the twentieth century Gemma Galgani, a Passionist nun, reported levitating during rapture.

    Incidents also have been reported in the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Milarepa, the great thirteenth century yogi of Tibet, is said to have possessed many occult powers such as the ability to walk, rest and sleep during levitating.

    That's the limit of my knowing.  I'd love to experience levitation!  Wow -- imagine that!

  • Education Institution

    Kia Ora to All:  Firstly I have not read this book YET (I plan to when the sheckels appear to buy it first).

    But I've watched the 14 min vid 3 times -- each time getting more & more form each viewing.

    Lindsey Rosen’s rapturous beauty is second only to her heart’s desire to become a Carmelite novitiate.  In my mind’s eye I see her as a radiant, angelic muse who would draw all men’s affections.  However, she has but one love – the desire to know God; in a story “that unveils the foundations of psyche's movement toward wholeness”. (Clark-Stern, 2013, rear jacket)

    Alma de Leon’s soliloquy is so haunting; lustful desires that the soul can hardly sustain the depth of feeling.  It is the desires of things “forbidden” – that which isn’t easily attained.  It is the longing of the soul for forbidden fruit – a lust like possibly David felt when first seeing and desiring Bathsheba.  It comes laden with Love and fear... empathy and shame.... expectancy and hope.  Like being on the threshold of something grander than our own hearts could ever imagine.  It reminds one of the liminal space of van Gennep; these thresholds of waiting and not knowing our "next" are everywhere in life and they are inevitable. Each ushers in a new chapter of life, and each holds varying degrees of disruption.

    It is as Rohr says, Alma seems to be facing her liminal space; the place of transition, waiting, and not knowing is…

    …a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.

    - Rohr (1995)

    As Alma begins to surrender to her “desert experience” (aridity of the soul as she exclaims), she becomes more & more entranced by the richness of the stories around Teresa’s religious raptures.  Alma is made starkly aware of the dialectic between her own experiences and those purported by the Carmelite sisters.  What I believe Alma was seeking was “what all the great contemplatives describe as a distinct, and regard as a more advanced phase of the spiritual consciousness; the ecstatic states in which the concentration of interest on the Transcendent is so complete, the gathering up and pouring out of life on this one point so intense, that the subject is more or less entranced, and becomes, for the time of the ecstasy, unconscious of the external world.” (Underhill, 1911, 359) 

    In her mind, it resembles an exceptionally favourable state; the one in which a person’s spirit is caught up to the most immediate union with the divine. The word has become a synonym for joyous exaltation, for the inebriation of the Infinite.  The induced ecstasies of the Dionysian mysteries, the metaphysical raptures of the Neoplatonists, the voluntary or involuntary trance of Indian mystics and Christian saints—all these, however widely they may differ in transcendental value, agree in claiming such value, in declaring that this change in the quality of consciousness brought with it a valid and ineffable apprehension of the Real.  Clearly, this apprehension will vary in quality and content with the place of the subject in the spiritual scale. The ecstasy is merely the psycho-physical condition which accompanies it. “It is hardly a paradox to say,” says Myers, “that the evidence for ecstasy is stronger than the evidence for any other religious belief.”

    Such were the thoughts of St. Thomas stating these ecstasies to be inevitable on just this psychological ground. “The higher our mind is raised to the contemplation of spiritual things,” he says, “the more it is abstracted from sensible things. But the final term to which contemplation can possibly arrive is the divine substance. Therefore the mind that sees the divine substance must be totally divorced from the bodily senses, either by death or by some rapture” (“Sultana contra Gentiles,” I. iii. cap. xlvii., Rickaby’s translation).

    • Good early morning Alan - how wonderful an opportunity we have here to share and I so enjoy your writings for you find the words I have struggled to find.  Intriguing, very interesting spaces/places to muse with others and for me, being able to hear words of particular people describe states of holy/unholiness...anomalous  phenomena...the most immediate moment with God [divine]...the "inebriation" goes with intoxication [1819], but not infinity, for me...one point so intense...entranced...in timeless bliss...surreal, so true...not an apprehension to be measured on any human scale or earthly plane [psycho-soical condition...wow, how minimiIng this phrase of psychobabble is, and the best "evidence" is beyond words, beliefs and rooted in first hand experience.

      This is not just a matter of "higher out mind," [projections], it is about surreal soul [spiritual] states...the supernatural is not, in my opinion, an abstraction from the sensible, logical...it is beyond mind/matter...it is etheric and exquisitely vibrational...and requires no evidence... for it is felt...yes, divine substance beyond common sense and normal sensory-perception and into...the black hole...void of God and back out again...forever changed.  thank you for the helping words and this level of conversation.  Peace + Love Linda


    Good afternoon Elizabeth + Group Members,

    1. 3rd Viewing:  I do not know exactly what it might be like to live in Alma de Leon’s body, in light of her age, loss of both parents by age 20, no inheritance and the struggles of her times [16th c], plus history of her people [Hebrews].  But, I did see her body movements and gestures of:  looking + reaching upwards [to God] in prayer, clutching her stomach and heart with an increase in respirations, ending in frantic searching before falling to the ground, then, pulling herself along to the present moment.

    2. “Aridity of Soul: Alma explains that she knows there can be no secrets [receiving whispers from God], and has identified her own spiritual need [great hunger] and hope [belief – whole-hearted] that together with science of her times that the mind would be able to probe the vastness of the universe [scientific discoveries].  She enters the order truly wanting to learn from Theresa of Avila.  However, she thinks she is a godless child, wonders who is listening, and has shame associated with the ancient, sacred Jewish texts regarding the Kabbala.

    3. “Rapture + Levitation: I have shared within DPA Community [over this past 3 years], some of my lifetime experiences.  I acknowledge many time of being overwhelmed by emotions in relation to particular experiences [NDE’s + Deaths of Loved Ones].  I was out-of-body to age 35 [did post-trauma work 20 years to become embodied and reach Time Zero].   I have been blessed with some knowing of divinity as a result of my experiences.  I continue to search for wisdom for she is good and currently on a Virtual Hermitage that began on Friday, February 13, 2015.  I have experienced extreme states of angst, into rude awakenings, but remain an eternal optimist and very passionate in life and humble servant of God. 

    I now know and believe my traumatic birth was the day I was called.  I have completed a 35 year, extensive journey of learning/healing about the “how’s” to heal my own and my ancestors [healing the family tree work] trauma memories and legacies to better serve others.  I am constantly working on living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, in light of my history and sensitivities.  I need to remain healthy to serve and role model well to my children, grandchildren and those I serve.  My faith remains unshakeable + solid.  Innocence [to new moments + new days] attitude is my gift.

    I have had the privilege of working, receiving training from many great teachers.  It has been profound witnessing so many human + divine interventions jammed packed full of phenomena in my work environments over this past 50 years.  I have been present to see amazing grace unfold and I continue to experience profound altered states while in prayer, where and at times, spirit manifests and a variety of supernatural anomalous experiences occur for me to behold: visions, locutions, discernment, etc.  I guess these are my gifts from out of my own + family members suffering, plus those I serve.  I fell down on my knees, in prayer to Jesus and my plan is to keep the promise I made to God for the remainder of my days [asked and received a special prayer favour for my dying brother].

    PS.  Unable to complete your reading assignment as I still have not received your book...yet, however, I do have a text and am reading Theresa’s letters dated from:  Dec 28, 1568 to January 31, 1579.

    I am keen to receive your book. Peace + Love Linda  

  • Thanks, Elizabeth. I'm thinking about your question #3 about "aridity of soul." Recently I hosted an online panel for the Alliance called DroughtAction. We talked not only about literal drought taking place in parts of the world today, but also how the inner and outer reflect each other from a depth psychological standpoint. That is, culture in general may be seen as suffering from a spiritual drought as we have moved away from nature, seeing the world as animated and intelligent, and ritual that allows us to invoke sacred containers and forces we need to tap back into our source.

    Anyway--there is much to be said on the topic. I haven't started the book yet, but I hope we can pick up this thread here in the group as it's a topic that is profoundly important. What do you all think about his or Elizabeth's other questions?

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